Collection Favorites: Lari Pittman

We at Unframed have gone on about some of our favorite works in the permanent collection, but we decided to hear from some of our co-workers. This week we turned to the graphics department. We’ll post the responses over the course of the week.

When I was asked to write about my favorite piece in our collection, I found this to be an impossible task. There are so many pieces that I love, it’s too difficult to choose just one. Instead, I thought I would write about the piece that’s had the longest lasting memory for me: Lari Pittman’s This Wholesomeness, Beloved and Despised, Continues Regardless.

Lari Pittman, This Wholesomeness, Beloved and Despised, Continues Regardless, 1989–90, purchased with funds provided by the Ansley I. Graham Trust, © Lari Pittman

I was seventeen years old and had just moved to Los Angeles to attend art school. I was a fish out of water—moving from a small town, population less than 20,000, to L.A., population 9,500,000. I had never taken any art classes in high school nor had I ever been to a museum, yet here I was. During my first week of college I was brought to LACMA. My color and design teacher took us on a tour pretty much through the history of art. What I remember from that trip, besides being awestruck, is the Lari Pittman painting.

Pittman was shot in the stomach by a burglar attempting to break into his home and nearly died. After this event his paintings were “morose and filled with images of ruin and desolation,” as former curator Howard Fox wrote. Eventually, he had a more optimistic outlook in his work and painted themes of “forgiveness, compassion, charity, kindness, hope, and faith.”

While overtly sexual, This Wholesomeness is about love. I don’t know if it was the painting or the story I remember most. Looking back on it now through my eyes as a graphic designer, it’s obvious why this painting still resonates with me: there are bold blocks of color, simple shapes, graphic elements, black silhouetted figures, and a clear composition. All I know is that after all these years, this is my first memory of LACMA.

Meghan Moran, Graphic Designer

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